Tag Archives: chinese new years

You shouldn’t wash your hair the day before Chinese New Year, because then you will wash away all your luck

The informant is currently a student at the University of Southern California and has resided in the United States all her life, though she has gown up with Asian culture due to her parents. She knows many Chinese, Japanese and Thai proverbs due to the fact that her mother is Thai and because she studied abroad in Japan when she was in high school. She first heard this saying when her mother told about it when she was a young child as New Year’s was approaching.The folk belief about good and bad luck is a prominent theme in Chinese culture and the community has several different things that indicate good and bad luck in their society. In Chinese folklore, the informant says that a lot of beliefs are mimicked by the actions of a person. For example, the luck is washed away because a person washes their hair. The act of washing one’s hair simultaneously causes the luck to “wash” away as well. She says that there are several pieces of folk beliefs in China and East Asia that pertain to these types of actions.

I agree that Chinese folklore does have a lot of superstitions about good and bad luck. The analysis of the meaning behind the saying also makes a logical progression, which is easy to follow. The saying is very phonetic, like many of the sayings and proverbs in Asian culture. However, the informant couldn’t tell me why exactly the saying was the day before Chinese New Year’s. I believe it is because Chinese New Year’s is a day full of celebration and beginning anew for the year, and to wash one’s hair the night before would be washing away all the luck that one would have begun with for the year. It is also possible that because the night before New Year’s is a liminal phase between the end of one year and the beginning of a new year, the creation and participation in this ritual is is important.

You have to wear red on New Year’s because you want to scare away the monster. The monster is scared of red, which is the color of firecrackers.

The informant is a student at the University of Southern California. She says that she has always performed this piece of folklore ever since she could remember, as her family is Chinese and they participate in the tradition. This belief causes the Chinese to wear red and decorate everything in red. They also set off firecrackers based off of this superstition. She says that this tradition is based off of a Chinese myth where a monster came to attack the villagers a long time ago. To appease the monster, the villagers would offer up food in front of their houses to the monster every year. One year though, they noticed that the monster was scared off by a person wearing red, so the villagers started wearing red and covering the village in red so that the monster would never come back. It is believed that because every year on New Year’s, everybody in the community wears red, the monster doesn’t come back anymore.This folk belief also related to magic superstition, where by participating in the ritual of scaring off the monster by wearing red, one will not have bad luck for the rest of the year. When everybody participates in the ritual, it causes a sense of community as well, strengthening the relationship of the common group that participates in the piece of folklore amongst themselves.